Written by Sarah
Do you believe in voodoo? I do. Call it superstition, karma, witchcraft, bad juju. I believe that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” And I walked right into a black magic trap over the weekend. I went to see Jonah Hex. Willingly. I paid my $10 for Jonah Hex and in so doing I invited evil into my life. And evil arrived Sunday night in the form of the Massive Computer Meltdown of 2010. But first, about Jonah Hex.
I am struggling with the language to express just how bad this movie is. Because there was a lot wrong with this movie. An unlikeable hero, a love interest we never care about, a villain so bland he was played by John Malkovich’s Reanimated Corpse, and attempts at humor which repeatedly fell flat. Nothing illustrates a movie’s failure more than when the moment after a punchline is greeted with silence. Though it’s quite short at 73 minutes, I feel like if I sat through a longer Jonah Hex I would have started bleeding from every orifice. The writing was bad, the acting was bad, the direction was bad, the editing was criminal. The editing was so awful. What might have been decent performances from Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Basterds, the upcoming X-Men: First Class) and Will Arnett (Arrested Development) were rendered useless by having their characters cut off at the knees.
Who were these people? Why were these people? What were they supposed to be doing? What were their names? No idea on all of the above. When asked how Michael Shannon, recent Academy Award nominee for Revolutionary Road, was in the movie my answer was, “I don’t remember seeing him.” Which makes sense as he was the “Barker at the boxing match”. Michael Shannon, Oscar nominee, was reduced to being an EXTRA. And Josh Brolin, generally a good actor, was brought down by Hex’s trademark scar. It immobilized his face and unfortunately Brolin isn’t such a good actor that he can overcome the liability. What looks good in a comic book doesn’t always work on film.
The plot of Jonah Hex is irrelevant. Large chunks of it made no sense, and I can’t remember it anyway, because my brain entered a fugue state halfway through the movie to save itself from the sheer inanity of it all. The important points are that Hex can touch dead people and make them alive again, and that Hex and John Malkovich’s Reanimated Corpse are engaged in a struggle to the death because they have each murdered members of the other’s family.
Somewhere in there Hex has a relationship with a hooker (Megan Fox) who has zero impact on the story. Brolin and Fox have no chemistry and Fox can’t deliver a witticism to save her life. I spent the entire eight minutes that Fox was onscreen—for a headlining star she was barely in the movie—wondering why her face looked like it had been drawn on with CGI (probably because it had).
The fight scenes were terrible, using parkour in a way that should be punishable by the law, and Brolin and John Malkovich’s Reanimated Corpse do not have the physicality needed to sell a believable and visually interesting fight. The least a bad action movie could do is entertain me, but Jonah Hex was so far beyond bad and not entertaining that stabbing myself in the eye with chopsticks started sounding like fun before the movie was over.
Which brings us to the voodoo this movie worked over the weekend. My suspicions that there was something wrong with Jonah Hex began growing earlier this year as Warner Brothers kept delaying the release of the trailer. That’s never a good sign, especially for big-budget summer blockbuster hopefuls that rely on internet buzz to pull their audience. I knew there was something wrong with this movie, and I knew I should have gone to see Toy Story 3 instead, but I insisted on acting against my better judgment and my reward was a virus in my nerd box Sunday night that crashed my whole system and took my initial scathing review of Jonah Hex out with it. Call me superstitious and paranoid, but I’m pretty sure Jonah Hex is actually part of a voodoo ritual that brings destruction and sorrow to all who see it. Not that anyone, besides me, saw this movie. Jonah Hex barely made $5 million over the weekend, and even in the new reality, that’s plain old sh*tty box office.
Written by Sarah